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Ireland Sees Steep Surge in New Age & Same-Sex Weddings

Updated: May 17

Church ceremonies dramatically decline in the former bastion of Catholicism

Traditionally Catholic Ireland is witnessing a sharp rise in alternative wedding ceremonies performed by ministers of "other religious denominations," according to new data published by the government's Central Statistics Office (CSO).


The non-Catholic weddings, which are performed by "registered solemnizers" with the power to perform the legal element of a wedding, are also being marketed as "spiritual ceremonies" by ministers who are mostly part of the quasi-occultic Spiritualist Union of Ireland.


Catholic services of baptism and funerals are also being replaced with "baby-naming" and "celebration of life" ceremonies, and there has been an explosion of services of blessings for couples and vow renewal ceremonies conducted by New Age ministers.


Muslim or Pentecostal weddings comprise only a tiny fraction of the weddings classified as "other religious denominations" by the CSO, explains Catholic researcher Dr. Angelo Bottone from the Iona Institute. "The vast majority of the ceremonies, in fact, really belong under the very broad heading 'New Age.'"


The "extremely eclectic" ceremonies "incorporate elements from many different religions," "depending on the taste of the couple," and have "no particular coherence to them" because "they don't come from a systematic religious worldview that can be called 'Christian,' or 'Buddhist,' or 'Muslim' or 'Hindu,'" Bottone notes.


The "New Age" weddings have increased from 5.3% of the total in 2018 to 15.8% in 2023, growing from 1,009 to 3,259 in absolute numbers — a three-fold increase in just five years, and the "spiritualist" services account for 7.9% of all marriages, according to the CSO.


"New Age" or "spiritual" wedding ceremonies now account for a quarter of all weddings in Ireland, Bottone, a faithful Catholic, laments. "The rise of non-denominational religious ceremonies is a new trend that reveals the need to mark important events in life with some form of non-institutional religious rituals."


The number of same-sex marriages increased from 500 in 2021 to 646 in 2023. Of these, 324 were homosexual and 322 were of lesbian couples.


In contrast, Catholic weddings have plummeted from 62.5% a decade ago to 35.3% in 2023, according to figures from the CSO.


Meanwhile, there has been an exponential growth in New Age organizations and their ministers offering tailor-made services of weddings, funerals and baby-naming ceremonies.


While some of these services are marketed under the guise of "spiritual, not religious" by companies like the Spiritualist Union of Ireland, such companies in their fine print admit that their purpose is "to promote Spiritualism as a religion in Ireland."


The union reveals that it facilitates "both the personal and spiritual development of its members in Spirituality, general Mediumship, Spiritual Healing and all other aspects of holistic and Spiritual enlightenment," confirming that view of Spiritualism as a quasi-occult cult.


A key aspect of Spiritualism is "mediumship," where the "medium" acts as a link between this world and the spirit world, and engages in clairvoyance (seeing spirits), clairaudience (hearing spirits), and clairsentience (sensing spirits) — practices forbidden as demonic by the Church.


"Inclusive" organizations like Entheos Ireland, which claims to work with members of different religions and churches, including Catholic, Protestant, Hindu, Buddhist, atheist, agnostic, as well as LGBTQ+ people, "provide freedom of choice, ensuring that individuals can find a supportive and understanding Celebrant who resonates with their beliefs and values."


Entheos (Greek for "in God") also offers services of Threshold and Transition, including ceremonies having their roots in beginnings, such as Renaming, Gender Affirmation, coming-of-age; and some from endings, like ceremonies for Abortion, Divorce and Retirement.


"We value the safety of our Ministers, so we do not offer ceremonies for people who we know to be racist/sexist/homophobic/transphobic," the Entheos website states.


According to the CSO database, Entheos ministers officiated at 623 marriages in 2023. They currently have 81 licensed solemnizers, compared to only five Muslim ministers and 20 from various Orthodox churches licensed to solemnize weddings.


Similarly, the OneSpirit Interfaith Foundation, claiming to be "embracing the universal truth at the heart of all spiritual traditions," offers ceremonies like Interfaith baby blessings, adoption blessings, pet funerals, and even house blessings.


Karen Dempsey, director of Entheos, said more couples are interested in unique ceremonies. 


"Very often people will come and say, 'I heard about a sand ceremony, I heard about using candles, I heard about a wine box ceremony,' all of these different things," she said. 


"The essence of all of those extra inclusions is to symbolize what it is that you're bringing to the ceremony," she explained. "These are various different ways of symbolizing unity and union and coming together."


Eminent sociologist of religion Rodney Stark has explained the exponential growth of alternative "spiritual" services as contradicting the thesis that secularism has conquered the West. Stark notes that people seeking such services suffer from "spiritual deprivation."


"The overwhelming majority of people on earth do think about the meaning and purpose of life," he writes. "People want to know why the universe exists, not that it exists for no reason, and they don't want their lives to be pointless."


"Only religion provides credible and satisfactory answers to their great existential questions. The most ardent wishes of the secularized faithful will never change that," Stark concludes.

Dr. Jules Gomes, (BA, BD, MTh, PhD), has a doctorate in biblical studies from the University of Cambridge. Currently a Vatican-accredited journalist based in Rome, he is the author of five books and several academic articles. Gomes lectured at Catholic and Protestant seminaries and universities and was canon theologian and artistic director at Liverpool Cathedral.

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08 thg 5

All that was referenced in this article strikes me as mere plastic copies of real Faith. There's the plastic firetruck or talking doll that pleases the seven year-old on Christmas morning, and then there's the real firetruck or newborn baby sister.

In other words, all of this faux spiritualism is mere pretending, for show; a vain attempt to fill a very real hole within these people's lives. So sad to see this in Ireland....

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